Google has launched a new chat service later today joining a field already crowded by players such as Microsoft and Yahoo.

The search engine company confirmed sketchy reports on Tuesday that it plans to add instant messaging together with VoIP phone calling in a similar package to Skype.

Google Talk as it will be known, is hoping that it can grab some of the market share from the the big four - AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and Skype.

A trial version, in English only initially, can be found at

. Users need to have a Google Gmail account and currently Google are only supporting Windows users.

The service fits within the Google Sidebar also launched this week designed to help users manage e-mail, instant messages, news headlines and music.

Google said its Talk service would allow users to communicate with other open systems such as Trillian and iChat with the aim to add more connectivity in with other IM services in the future.

Google is looking to significantly expand its membership to its webmail solution - GMail, that until now has only been available through referrals by friends. Users wishing to use Google Talk will need a GMail account.